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TikTok’s ties to China once again under fire in Washington

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Two years after then-President Donald Trump announced through an executive order that he would ban TikTok in the United States, the short-form video platform is once again under investigation in Washington. And the underlying issue hasn’t changed much: TikTok’s ties to China through its parent company, Bytedance.

TikTok's ties to China once again under fire in Washington

TikTok’s ties to China once again under fire in Washington

A growing number of US lawmakers are calling for the Joe Biden administration to take action against TikTok, citing apparent national security and data privacy concerns. The criticism stems from a Buzzfeed News report in June that said some US user data has been repeatedly accessed from China. The reporting cited leaked audio recordings of dozens of internal TikTok meetings, including one where a TikTok employee allegedly said, “Everything is seen in China.”

In a response to the report, TikTok previously said it “has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls.” A TikTok executive testified before a Senate panel last year that it doesn’t share information with the Chinese government and that a US-based security team decides who can access US user data from China.

The renewed pressure on TikTok comes as the platform’s influence continues to grow in the United States. After Trump left office, the Biden administration revoked the executive order and largely walked back official attempts to ban TikTok. Last year, TikTok said it topped 1 billion monthly active users globally, and more than 100 million users are said to be in the United States, according to some market research estimates.


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Activity on the app continues to shape the news cycle, popular music, culinary trends and more in the country. Meanwhile, other US social media giants continue to imitate TikTok’s features in an effort to compete.

Some critics previously blasted Trump’s crusade against the fast-growing video app as political theater rooted in xenophobia, and called out Trump’s odd suggestion that the United States should get a “cut” of any deal if it forced the app’s sale to an American firm. But the latest round of pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle shows how the national security issue continues to plague TikTok in the United States, even under a new administration.

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